Israeli Court Orders Mother to Amputate Hand to Save Child

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doctors israelIn a dramatic ruling, an Israeli court ruled that a 13-year-old girl suffering from cancer must have her hand amputated – otherwise she will die. The ruling came after the girl’s mother refused to authorize the operation, claiming the only treatment her daughter requires is fasting and prayer.

Three months ago, the Ministry of Social Affairs’ legal adviser filed an urgent request with the Family Court, requesting permission to perform the urgent surgery.

In the petition, Dr. Dror Levin, director of the pediatric hemato-oncology clinic at the Sourasky medical center in Tel Aviv, wrote: “The girl suffers from an aggressive malignant tumor. Without treatment, it will spread to the soft tissues; beyond doubt, the disease is fatal in 100% of the cases – if not treated.”

Dr. Levin recommended a full amputation of the hand, which will give the girl a 60%-65% chance of recovery, and determined that without the amputation, she will surely die.

Social services reported that the girl’s mother, described as “a stubborn pious woman,” refused consent and cooperation with the hospital staff, claiming that the cure for her daughter’s condition is not medical treatment, but rather fasting and prayer.

According to social services, the mother – who has been raising the daughter on her own after the father died several years ago – refused to change her mind after hearing Dr. Levin’s prognosis, saying her daughter is “better off dead.”

Upon hearing her mother’s comment, the girl started weeping, but quickly accepted her verdict, saying “I understand I have no other choice.”

Even after receiving a second opinion from founder of “Ezra LeMarpeh” Association Rabbi Firer, who also determined the girl must undergo the surgery, the mother stood her grounds.

‘Life above all’

In a hearing at the Tel Aviv District Family Court last Thursday, Judge Yehoram Shaked ruled that “no parent has the right to take action or withhold action that might lead to the death of his child.

“Safeguarding a life supersedes all other matters,” he wrote, adding that Jewish halacha and Israeli law regard the sanctity of life with the highest value.

The judge also ruled that if the mother interferes with her daughter’s medical treatment, the police must intervene.

Meanwhile, the girl is still hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center and has yet to receive medical treatment. Hospital staff noted that postponing the treatment by a few days will not worsen her chances of recovery.

The hospital management has been consulting with senior legal advisers in an attempt to find the “golden path” that will rescue the girl without hurting her family members.

“This story is still not over – not ethically or legally. We are currently studying the court’s decision. The girl is facing a critical medical procedure and we are trying to find the best solution for everyone; we still haven’t decided if and when the said procedure will take place,” said Sheba Medical Center Deputy Director-General Dr. Yitzhak Zeides.

{Ynet/ Newscenter}


  1. The RambaM writes:

    Hilchos Mamrim 2:4

    ??? ???? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ???????? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ????? ????? ???. ???? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ????. ???? ??????? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ?????? ??????? ????? ?? ???. ??? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ????. ??? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ??? ????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ???????? [????] ???? ????? ????? ???????? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ????:

    read carefully

  2. The Torah gives Doctors “Reshus/permission to heal.
    The mother is correct, we are not obligated to listen to Doctors, rather permitted to.

  3. This lady isn’t “pious” – she is mentally ill. She is also guilty of severe child abuse. What could be more abusive than sentencing your child to death, even if you are not directly doing the killing?

    Yes, tefillos are necesary, but one must also do the hishtadlus – in this case, operating. Heaven help this child who must deal with such an irrational mother. The courts – and we hope the Rabbonim too – must do everything to protect her.

  4. #3:
    I have no idea if the story is true as reported.

    Regardless, it seems to me that if medical experts who are yirei Shomayim – as Rabbi Firer is – tell one that a medical procedure is necessary in order to have a 60-65% chance of living, one does not have halachic sanction to ignore them and say that fasting and davening is enough.

  5. Its terrible that the mother is ordered to amputate her own child’s hand. I couldn’t bare to do it either. They should make the surgen amputate the hand so as not to tramatise the mother.

  6. Don’t be so precious, Anonymous #9. You know exactly what was meant and you have only posted your silly comment to show us all how clever you are – not.

  7. #9

    I can only presume that a was a very poor joke, as I cannot believe anyone could be so dumb as to think they want the mother to actually cut off the hand herself.

  8. To #3:

    You might have the choice Halachically to not listen to a doctor on your own cheshbon but not on other’s cheshbonos. You have no reshus to be a baal bitachon on another’s cheshbon. She can kill herself and die a baalas bitachon but to kill her daughter in the name of bitachon is murder.

  9. G8 Schola, what is your source? It is well known that we are mechallel Shabbat and eat on Yom Kippur if the doctors say that it is a matter of pikuach nefesh – even if the patient says that it is not necessary.

    Prayer and fasting are for Hashem to give the doctor success.

  10. shes not pious she s in denial for sofek pikuach nefesh one is allowed to be mechallel shabos yom kippur kal vachomer lehatzilo beechod meevorov

  11. G Schwartz, as it happened in Israel it would have to be “Mashiach’ so there goes your rearranging (of what? – there is no “b” in the title although there are four “r”s and only one in your plea).

    Try again.

  12. Just to get this straight…the mother said in front of her child that she is ‘better off dead’ than undergo surgery, and she’s not in a mental asylum?


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